Inadequate agriculture extension agents in the Cape Coast Metropolis is hampering agricultural services delivery, Mr Henry Fordjour, the Metropolitan Director of Agriculture, has said.
The Metropolis could boast of only 10 extension agents with a ratio of 1,115 farmers per an extension officer, a situation that was affecting the technical knowledge and directions in agriculture as expected and sometimes result in poor yield.
Speaking in an interview with the GNA, he noted that extension agents were key to providing agricultural services on chemical application, good planting and harvesting practices and modern trends in farming to boost production.
He said agricultural extension delivery played a major role in addressing and equipping farmers with improved and modern technologies to enhance their farming methods.
The ideal situation is that at least two or three communities would have access to an agriculture extension agent who would help them cultivate their farms to maximise yields as well as profits.
But the GNA team observed that many farmers were not getting the desired yields due to the lack of technical support services.
Mr Fordjour mentioned that the lack of knowledge in the application of chemicals often damage farmers’ crops and affected their health and appealed to the authorities to engage more extension officers to save the situation.
He also hinted of his office’s resolve to give strong boost to greenhouse farming technology to increase food production.
This, he said was geared towards creating jobs for the youth through technologically inclined methods of farming to maintain food security in the area and to complement government’s agricultural revolution flagship programme “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ).
Touching on PFJ, he announced that a total of 4,588 farmers had been registered but only 1,883 were engaged – comprising of 1,247 males and 636 females.
The figure represents a sharp increase of 3,638 over the 950 farmers registered for the year 2017.
In all, a total of 616 acres of largely maize and rice farms had been cultivated since the inception of the PFJ programmes in addition to the supply of about 999 fertilizers to farmers comprising of 789 males and 210 females.
Mr Fordjour said the Assembly had prioritised the cultivation of major vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, coconut, pepper and maize.
Additionally, the Assembly had also registered 320 farmers to be supplied with over 50,000 coconut seedlings and 100,000 oil palm seedlings in support of government’s planting for food and export.
To rake in the support of all institutions and organisations, about seven educational institutions including the University of Cape Coast, Aggrey Memorial Zion SHS, Mfantsipim School, Adisadel College, among others, have been involved.
He encouraged farmers to consider farming as business and a major source of livelihood and register with the Ministry to get certified seeds and fertilizers that would boost crop yields.
Later in engagements with some farmers they expressed worry about poor extension services which had affected food production.
They revealed that the agricultural extension agents were not punctual, while their relationship with farmers, especially female farmers and visits to the various farms were not encouraging.